Monday, 31 December 2012

improving your english

In 2013 you can commit yourself to becoming fluent in English:

This is from

The Year of English

December 31st, 2012 

Aaron Knight (the author of PhraseMix) has launched a new initiative called “Year of English”. You enter your e-mail address to commit yourself to becoming fluent in English in 2013. Every day in 2013, you will receive a newsletter with lessons, advice and assignments.
Of course, I know that it’s hard to start learning English every day. To pull it off, you have to get pretty excited about English – more excited than you are about other things you do, like checking Facebook 50 times a day. Still, sometimes we need a nudge in the right direction; a daily reminder can also help you stay on track.

It looks very interesting: I might sign up myself for some good ideas:

improving my second language

In 2013 I intend to get going with my German, using a few techniques:

Reading for Pleasure:
> or I might try the original Fairy Stories from the Brothers Grimm: Die Märchen der Brüder Grimm: Gebrüder Grimm: Bücher

As this is a wee bit difficult, I'll also be:

Pausing and Thinking:
> The method from How to get the most out of English texts | Antimoon
> and whether it's really worth all the hard work: Is “pause and think” worth it? « The Antimoon Blog

> The method from How to improve your English Speaking and Fluency: shadowing - YouTube (see this blog 10th Sept)

Keeping it Simple:
> The method from How To Speak Fluent English Easily? Use Your Active Vocabulary! - YouTube (see this blog 10th Sept)

I will not be keeping a vocabulary note book or looking at grammar rules!
I will be checking out German-language websites, doing at least 5 minutes of German a day, watching films and videos, writing to and telephoning friends in the German-speaking world: keeping it as active and fun as possible!
I'll let you know how it's going!

Saturday, 3 November 2012


A new story-telling website for children from the charity 'Kids Out': most of them are in fact in English even though I'd hoped to be able to practice my listening in French.
Anyway, with most of these 'world stories' you can enjoy both having someone read to you and reading through the text of the story.
For example, this is in both Cantonese and English:

The Story of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu - World Stories
The Story of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu
Home - World Stories

Monday, 29 October 2012

theories of language learning and teaching: behaviourism vs nativism

Continuing from the last post:
An introduction to the work of Stephen Krashen

The claim that humans possess an innate language learning ability stems from Chomsky (1965), who rejected Skinner's (1957) behaviourist theory that language learning is habit formation through stimulus and response. Chomsky called the special inborn language capability the Language Acquisition Device (LAD). From this he developed the theory that all languages share an underlying system named Universal Grammar. The hypothesis that the ability to learn language is innate has been restated more recently by linguist Steven Pinker who claims that this ability is "hard-wired in the genes".
Chomsky and Pinker are nativists. Their theories are opposed by contemporary empiricists such as Sampson (2005), who reiterate Skinner's claim that language develops in response to environmental influences. Other linguists and cognitive scientists, such as O'Grady (2005), agree that humans possess significant innate capabilities. However, they suggest that language learning depends on general cognitive faculties rather than on a specific language acquisition mechanism.

theories of language learning and teaching: input part two

This is a very nice overview of the work of Krashen:
An introduction to the work of Stephen Krashen
Here it is in full from the Frankfurt International School A guide to learning English:
(You need to go to the original FIS site to click onto the 'more' sections.)

An introduction to the work of Stephen Krashen

This page contains an introduction to the work of Stephen Krashen, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics and Education at the University of Southern California. It was written in advance of Dr. Krashen's visit to Frankfurt International School (FIS) in October 2009 to lead the school's two-day professional development.
The page as shown initially contains a brief synopsis of Krashen's work in the fields of second language learningfree voluntary readingbilingual educationwhole languagecognitive development and writing. Each synopsis is followed by comments and a summary of implications for mainstream teachers of ESL students.
At various points in the page you can click §§ to see quotations from Krashen's books and articles. Teachers who are interested in further information about the various issues can click [More] at the end of each section.

Show all extra text

Second language learning

Krashen believes that there is no fundamental difference between the way we acquire our first language and our subsequent languages. He claims that humans have an innate ability that guides the language learning process. Infants learn their mother tongue simply by listening attentively to spoken language that is (made) meaningful to them. Foreign languages are acquired in the same way.

Krashen synthesizes his theories of second/foreign language learning in what is usually referred to as the Monitor Model. The Monitor Model has 5 components:

The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis 

There are two ways of developing language ability: by acquisition and by learning. Acquisition is a sub-conscious process, as in the case of a child learning its own language or an adult 'picking up' a second language simply by living and working in a foreign country. Learning is the conscious process of developing a foreign language through language lessons and a focus on the grammatical features of that language.

The Natural Order Hypothesis

Language is acquired in a predictable order by all learners. This order does not depend on the apparent simplicity or complexity of the grammatical features involved. The natural order of acquisition cannot be influenced by direct teaching of features that the learner is not yet ready to acquire.

The Monitor Hypothesis

We are able to use what we have learned (in Krashen's sense) about the rules of a language in monitoring (or self-correcting) our language output. Clearly, this is possible in the correction of written work. It is much more difficult when engaging in regular talk.

The Input Hypothesis

We acquire language in one way only: when we are exposed to input (written or spoken language) that is comprehensible to us. Comprehensible input is the necessary but also sufficient condition for language acquisition to take place. It requires no effort on the part of the learner.

The Affective Filter Hypothesis

Comprehensible input will not result in language acquisition if that input is filtered out before it can reach the brain's language processing faculties. The filtering may occur because of anxiety, poor self-esteem or low motivation.


Krashen's Monitor Model has attracted enormous attention from psychologists, fellow linguists and educators. His theories have been criticised for a perceived lack of scientific rigour and for his downplaying of the importance of language output and grammar instruction. Nevertheless, the Monitor Model has been extremely influential in language teaching pedagogy, and it is the basis for ESL instruction at Frankfurt International School.

Implications for mainstream teachers

Firstly, if teachers make their classroom instruction comprehensible, then not only will the ESL students learn the subject content but they will be acquiring English at the same time. All teachers of non-native English students should regard themselves as teachers of language too.
Secondly, ESL students are often anxious in mainstream classes. Teachers should seek ways to reduce the students' affective filter in order that they can profit from the comprehensible input they receive.

Free voluntary reading

Free voluntary reading (FVR) is the reading of any book (newspaper, magazine or comic) that students have chosen for themselves and is not subject to follow-up work such as comprehension questions or a summary. Krashen (2003) makes the claim that Free voluntary reading 'may be the most powerful educational tool in language education'. It serves to increase literacy and to develop vocabulary.§§
Extensive voluntary reading provides non-native students with large doses of comprehensible input with a low affective filter, and thus is a major factor in their general language acquisition.


Krashen's research has led many schools to implement in-class reading programmes such as SSR (Sustained Silent Reading). Investigations conducted by the US National Reading Panel (2000) did not find clear evidence that these programmes made students better readers or encouraged them to read more. Some educators (see Klump, 2007) believe that SSR is not the most productive use of instructional time. Krashen's response is that the NRP's research was flawed and that SSR does indeed result in better readers and more reading.

Implications for mainstream teachers

It is desirable that students develop the habit of regular reading in each discipline, even if teachers prefer not to use instructional time to enable this. They may wish, therefore, to assign self-selected reading as occasional homework and have students report back on anything they feel worthy of sharing with the rest of the class. Teachers can collaborate with the librarian to stock the library and the classrooms with interesting materials. Students can be given lists of recommended websites.

Bilingual education

Recent decades have seen a dramatic increase in the number of non-native speakers of English in the classrooms of Great Britain, the USA and other English-speaking countries. Educators in this period have been debating how best to meet the special needs of these students. In broad terms there are two opposing approaches: 1. maximize the learner's exposure to English; 2. provide instruction in the mother tongue as well as in English. Krashen is a strong advocate of the second approach, which finds its implementation in one of the forms of bilingual education.


Bilingual educational is a highly contentious issue, particularly in the USA. The strong arguments from research that mother-tongue support for non-native English students is beneficial for both their English language and their academic development have not been found convincing by much of the general public. Politicians have seen the issue as a way to gain voter popularity. Indeed, the whole question has become subsumed in volatile side issues such as race, immigration and poverty. The proponents of bilingual education, Krashen included, have been subject to intemperate personal attacks.

Implications for mainstream teachers

The dispute about optimal programme support for ESL students does not have a direct impact on mainstream teachers. However, research in the fields of second language acquisition and bilingual education has taught us that the first language is a very important tool both in acquiring the second language and in learning content/skills in that second language. The major reason for this is that judicious use of the mother-tongue serves to make English input comprehensible.

Whole Language

Krashen is a strong advocate of the whole language approach to the teaching of reading, and has written many articles in support of it. In essence, whole language proponents claim that children learn to read most enjoyably and efficiently by exposure to interesting stories that are made comprehensible to them through pictures and discussions. This is in contrast to structured decoding programmes (usually designated phonics) in which children learn to read by sounding out the various parts of words.


The whole language/phonics debate has become politicised and increasingly vitriolic. Constant media reports about falling literacy standards have alarmed parents, many of whom vehemently protest if they consider their child's school to have chosen the wrong approach. The issue is further complicated by the involvement of publishing houses which stand to make large profits if school districts can be persuaded to buy their comprehensive sets of phonics-based materials. Such an entanglement of interests is rarely conducive to making the best pedagogical decisions.

Implications for mainstream teachers

While this debate clearly has considerable implications for teachers of young children, it has little or no direct impact on mainstream teachers at upper school level, the intended audience of this web page. Nevertheless, teachers of older students (and parents) may wish to have a little knowledge of such a contentious pedagogical issue.

Cognitive development

Krashen (2003) claims that cognitive development, including the acquisition of concepts and facts, is more likely to occur through problem-solving than through deliberate study. It is a confusion of cause and effect to teach facts and thinking skills in order that students may then solve real problems. Instead, it is the case, Krashen says, that learning is the result of working on real problems.
Writing that synthesizes knowledge gained from various sources, incorporates personal insights, and presents these in a structured way is an excellent example of a problem-solving activity that leads to cognitive development.


Krashen's theory of cognitive development is based in the holistic paradigm. This paradigm has at its core the belief that teaching is most effective when it engages students in authentic, complex tasks rather than discrete skill-building. The holistic approach, which became popular in the 1960s, is now held responsible by some for what they claim to be a general decline in educational standards. This reactionary movement is often referred to as Back to Basics.

Implications for mainstream teachers

The most important implication is that teachers should seek out relevant, real (or realistic) problems for their students to solve. In other words, problems that interest the students and that naturally entail researching, thinking, discussing, reading and writing or presenting.


Krashen's (1984) early work in this field draws the distinction between writing competence and writing performance. Competence is the largely sub-conscious, abstract knowledge of what constitutes good prose. Competence is acquired for the most part through reading.§§ Performance, on the other hand, refers to the conscious application of strategies or rules that have been learned and practised. The distinction between competence and performance in writing parallels that between acquisition and learning in second language development.
In his later work Krashen (2003) investigates how writing can contribute to cognitive development. He summarizes research that shows how various writing activities, in particular note-taking and summary writing, are significant aids to learning §§.


The important insight from Krashen's work is that neither competence nor performance is alone sufficient in the production of a good piece of writing. Extensive reading, regular writing practice and the acquisition of writing skills and strategies are all necessary to ensure a strong end product.

Implications for mainstream teachers

Students who take notes in class and make summaries learn more than those who do not. Teachers should therefore consider requiring students to have a notebook and pencil at the ready in every lesson. ESL students can be encouraged to use their own language in noting down information and ideas. Teachers may also wish, from time to time, to have the students write a short paragraph summarizing the essential content of the lesson or section of it. Again, in the case of ESL students this summary could be in the mother tongue.
Since reading is the essential ingredient in the development of writing competence, teachers could encourage or require self-selected reading in their subject area.


Krashen's research and writings have inspired an enormous amount of attention over the last three decades. The thousands of research studies, scholarly articles and books based on Krashen's work are testimony to the major contribution he has made to advancing knowledge and understanding in the fields of linguistics and education. Significant numbers of teachers across the world have based their instruction on Krashen's theories, to the benefit of the learners in their classrooms.

References - Krashen

Krashen's website. It contains links to the full text of two of his early books about second language acquisition as well as to numerous journal articles:

Sunday, 9 September 2012

audio: how to...

How to put your music, radio programmes, youtube audio files onto a CD to play on a CD player or on a DVD player:

Insert your blank CD-R or CD-RW if you want to re-write.

You might be promted with a pop-up "AutoPlay" window to choose a Blank CD option: I'd close that and try something else.

Open your Computer window and right-click on the DVD RW Drive.

You might be prompted with a pop-up "Burn a Disc" window to chose 2 options on "How do you want to use this disc?" Click on "With a CD/DVD player".

Open your Music or other window which contains your files to be recorded.

Choose the files you want to be recorded and drag them over to the DVD RW Drive.

Click on the "Burn to disc" label at the top toolbar.

You might be prompted with a pop-up "Prepare this disc" window. Click on "Next".

You might be prompted with a pop-up "Burn an audio CD" window to chose 2 options on "Which format do you want to use?" Click on "Make an audio CD (for standard audio CD players). Click on "Next".

The Windows Media Player should open with your chosed files ready.

Click on the "Start burn" lable at the top toolbar.

It shouldn't take too long to burn. The CD will be rejected on finish.

The format should automatically change to "cda" which is the file type for CD players.

Monday, 27 August 2012

dumbing us down

John Taylor Gatto
What does the school do with the children? Gatto states the following assertions in "Dumbing Us Down":
1.       It makes the children confused. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials that programming is similar to the television, it fills almost all the "free" time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.
2.       It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
3.       It makes them indifferent.
4.       It makes them emotionally dependent.
5.       It makes them intellectually dependent.
6.       It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
7.       It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.[9]

Everything we thing about schooling is wrong: J T Gatto
Part of your thesis is that the true purpose of compulsory government schooling is conditioning, conformity, rows of chairs, routine, bells. Jerry Mander, author of the Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, uses the phrase ‘form is content.’ The form of public schooling is its content. 
… habit training and attitude training is imposed by the structure. Alexander Inglis, around the First WorldWar, wrote a book, it’s very, very hard to get, called “Principles of Secondary Education”.
The first is to make people predictable so that the economy can be rationalized. You can do that if people are predictable. Yet, history has demonstrated over and over and over again that we’re not. So the very first purpose or goal of institutional schoolings is to make people predictable.
Darwin was a big influence, but it’s not the Darwin that is sold in school text books. It’s not the fellow curious about nature. It’s a fellow absolutely certain that animal trainers and plant breeders had discovered the operational truth of human life. Darwin’s “Descent of Man”… was immediately adopted by the managerial classes of the planet. You had to find ways to lock up the evolutionarily retarded, to waste their time and set them against one another.
John Calvin says clearly that the damned are many times larger in number than the saved. The ratio is about twenty to one. There are too many damned to overwhelm with force. So you have to cloud their minds and set them into meaningless competitions with one another in ways that will eat up that energy.
Spinoza …1670… had a huge influence on the leadership classes of Europe, the United States and Asia… “Tractate Religico Politicu”it was nonsense to think people were damned or evil because there was no supernatural world. He also said there’s an enormous disproportion between permanently irrational people who are absolutely dangerous and the people who have good sense. The ratio is about twenty to one. Spinoza actually says that an institutional school system should be set up as a ‘civil religion’… everyone read Spinoza, all over the planet.
He said we need a ‘civil religion’… to eliminate official religion, which he says is completely irrational and dangerous. And two, to bind up the energies of these irrational twenty to one and to destroy their imagination.
Johann Fichte in Northern Germany in 1807, 1808, 1809, where the very first successful institutional schooling in the history of the planet, was established… in his famous Addresses to the German Nation, that the reason Prussia suffered a catastrophic defeat against Napoleon at Jena was because order was turned on its head by ordinary solders taking decisions into their hands.
University of Leipzig in the 1870's… the Father of Behavioral Psychology, Scientific Psychology, Bill Helmvoight… every college presidency of any significance in the United States, with the single exception of Cornell, is awarded a Prussian PhD. Every department head had a Prussian PhD
The subject is schooling and all the unexamined assumptions schooling imply, such as - to be removed from your family, your neighborhood, your traditions, your church, whatever other source you have and be placed in the hands of total strangers who you come to see are, all from bottom to the top, flunkies. They’re all interchangeable. None has any original ideas. This qualifies them as guards, to see that the training is imposed as it was designed.
Television and school – they do exactly the same thing in slightly different ways - even the wonderful stuff… – both being abstractions retard the capacity for that critical examination.
“Wealth of Nations.” You’ll see that in the first 15 pages he says that peasant children are quite as capable of sitting at the policy table and making high level decisions as the Duke’s children.
… the mind’s capacity to create and invent. Television undermines this capacity. The collapse of descriptive language undermines this. If you don’t use it you lose it Real education is not knowledge based. Real education is the unfolding of this capacity.
Back in the sixties an anthropologist, Carlos Castaneda, published a series of best sellers, supposedly about his apprenticeship with the Yaqui Indian shaman, Don Juan in Northern Mexico. The shaman said the key to everything is to always see death sitting on your left shoulder, this hawk or this raven watching you.

Against School: John Taylor Gatto
H. L. Mencken, who wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not ‘to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.’
Orestes Brownson, the hero of Christopher Lasch's 1991 book, The True and Only Heaven, was publicly denouncing the Prussianization of American schools back in the 1840s. Horace Mann's "Seventh Annual Report" to the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 1843 is essentially a paean to the land of Frederick the Great and a call for its schooling to be brought here.
James Bryant Conant - president of Harvard for twenty years: 1959 book-length essay, The Child the Parent and the State… that the modem schools we attend were the result of a "revolution" engineered 1905-30.
Alexander Inglis's 1918 book, Principles of Secondary Education, in which "one saw this revolution through the eyes of a revolutionary."
1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority.
2) The integrating function. This might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible.
3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role.
4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further.
5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin's theory of natural selection as applied to what he called "the favored races."
6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers.
Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, said the following to the New York City School Teachers Association in 1909: "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."
In the 1934 edition of his once well-known book Public Education in the United States, Ellwood P. Cubberley detailed and praised the way the strategy of successive school enlargements had extended childhood by two to six years, and forced schooling was at that point still quite new. This same Cubberley - who was dean of Stanford's School of Education and Conant's friend at Harvard - had written the following in the 1922 edition of his book Public School Administration: "Our schools are ...factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned .... And it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down."

turn off your tv

"Do you know we are ruled by TV?"
-- from the poem An American Prayer by Jim Morrison

"They put an off button on the TV for a reason. Turn it off . . . I really don't watch much TV."
-- President George W. Bush, C-SPAN interview, January 2005

"American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV."
-- The Kaiser Family Foundation

"You watch television to turn your brain off and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on."
-- Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and Pixar, in Macworld Magazine, February 2004

"Everybody’s got values . . . The thing that frightens me is the way that an eroding public school system . . . and television on all over the place is leading to a steady dumbing down of the American public and a corrosion of basic critical thinking in the population."
-- Jamie Raskin, American University law professor, November 2004 on the DemocracyNow! radio program
Kill Your Television

Peter Finch/Howard Beale: "We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take this anymore."

Network - YouTube

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978) is a book written by Jerry Mander which argues that there are a number of problems with the medium of television. Mander argues that many of the problems with television are inherent in the medium and technology itself, and thus cannot be reformed.
Mander spent 15 years in the advertising business, including five as president and partner of Freeman, Mander & Gossage, San Francisco, a nationally-known advertising agency.[1]

... television has effects, very important effects, aside from the content, and they may be more important. They organize society in a certain way. They give power to a very small number of people to speak into the brains of everyone else in the system night after night after night with images that make people turn out in a certain kind of way. It affects the psychology of people who watch. It increases the passivity of people who watch. It changes family relationships. It changes understandings of nature. It flattens perception so that information, which you need a fair amount of complexity to understand it as you would get from reading, this information is flattened down to a very reduced form on television. And the medium has inherent qualities which cause it to be that way.

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The revolution will not be televised: Gil Scott Heron

Gil Scott HeronThe Revolution Will Not Be Televised with lyrics - YouTube

"Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely . . . Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen."
-- from 1984 by George Orwell

Television is advertising. It is a medium whose purpose is to sell, to promote capitalism. In 1977, Jerry Mander, a former advertising executive in San Francisco, published Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television. In the book, Mander reveals how the television networks and advertisers use this pervasive video medium for sales.
Four Arguments talks about a lot more than just advertising. Mander attacks not only the contents of the television images, but the effects television has on the human mind and body. His discussion includes: The induction of alpha waves, a hypnotizing effect that a motionless mind enters. How viewers often regard what they see on television as real even though the programs are filled with quick camera switches, rapid image movement, computer generated objects, computer generated morphing and other technical events. The placement of artificial images into our mind's eye. And the effects that large amounts of television viewing have on children and the onset of attention deficit disorder.
However, at the heart of Mander's arguments, lies advertising. In the words of writer Charles Bukowski: "[America is] not a free country -- everything is bought and sold and owned."

Kill Your Television-Jerry Mander

Sunday, 26 August 2012

deschooling society

Ivan Illich was a visionary.

Deschooling Society (1971) is a critical discourse on education as practised in modern economies. It is a book that brought Ivan Illich to public attention. Full of detail on programs and concerns, the book gives examples of the ineffectual nature of institutionalized education. Illich posited self-directed education, supported by intentional social relations in fluid informal arrangements:
Universal education through schooling is not feasible. It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions built on the style of present schools. Neither new attitudes of teachers toward their pupils nor the proliferation of educational hardware or software (in classroom or bedroom), nor finally the attempt to expand the pedagogue's responsibility until it engulfs his pupils' lifetimes will deliver universal education. The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring. We hope to contribute concepts needed by those who conduct such counterfoil research on education--and also to those who seek alternatives to other established service industries.[1]
The last sentence makes clear what the title suggests—that the institutionalization of education is considered to institutionalize society and conversely that ideas for de-institutionalizing education may be a starting point for a de-institutionalized society.
The book is more than a critique—it contains suggestions for changes to learning in society and individual lifetimes. Particularly striking is his call (in 1971) for the use of advanced technology to support "learning webs."
The operation of a peer-matching network would be simple. The user would identify himself by name and address and describe the activity for which he sought a peer. A computer would send him back the names and addresses of all those who had inserted the same description. It is amazing that such a simple utility has never been used on a broad scale for publicly valued activity.[2]
Illich argued that the use of technology to create decentralized webs could support the goal of creating a good educational system:
A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known.[3]

Deschooling Society - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scary School Nightmare:

Scary School Nightmare - YouTube

A critique of commodificationProfessionals and the institutions in which they work tend to define an activity, in this case learning, as a commodity (education), 'whose production they monopolize, whose distribution they restrict, and whose price they raise beyond the purse of ordinary people and nowadays, all governments' (Lister in Illich 1976: 8). Ivan Illich put it this way:
Schooling - the production of knowledge, the marketing of knowledge, which is what the school amounts to, draws society into the trap of thinking that knowledge is hygienic, pure, respectable, deodorized, produced by human heads and amassed in stock..... [B]y making school compulsory, [people] are schooled to believe that the self-taught individual is to be discriminated against; that learning and the growth of cognitive capacity, require a process of consumption of services presented in an industrial, a planned, a professional form;... that learning is a thing rather than an activity. A thing that can be amassed and measured, the possession of which is a measure of the productivity of the individual within the society. That is, of his social value. (quoted by Gajardo 1994: 715) 
Learning becomes a commodity, 'and like any commodity that is marketed, it becomes scarce' (Illich 1975: 73). Furthermore, and echoing Marx, Ivan Illich notes the way in which such scarcity is obscured by the different forms that education takes. This is a similar critique to that mounted by Fromm (1979) of the tendency in modern industrial societies to orient toward a 'having mode' - where people focus upon, and organize around the possession of material objects. They, thus, approach learning as a form of acquisition. Knowledge become a possession to be exploited rather than an aspect of being in the world. 
Ivan Illich: deschooling, conviality and the possibilities for informal education and lifelong learning

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

british humour

... at the Olympics:

The Opening Ceremony:

Her Maj:

Mr Bean:

The Closing Ceremony:

Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life:

Monty Python & Olympics Closing Ceremony: Eric Idle Sings 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life'

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

Monty Python:Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life Lyrics - Lyric Wiki - song lyrics, music lyrics

I am the Walruss:

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly.
I'm crying.

Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob.

Mister City Policeman sitting
Pretty little policemen in a row.
See how they fly like Lucy in the Sky, see how they run.
I'm crying, I'm crying.
I'm crying, I'm crying.

Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog's eye.
Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess,
Boy, you been a naughty girl you let your knickers down.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob.

Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun.
If the sun don't come, you get a tan
From standing in the English rain.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob.

Expert textpert choking smokers,
Don't you thing the joker laughs at you?
See how they smile like pigs in a sty,
See how they snied.
I'm crying.

Semolina pilchard, climbing up the Eiffel Tower.
Elementary penguin singing Hari Krishna.
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob.
Goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob g'goo...


Which happens to be my favourite Beatles song:

Lennon received a letter from a pupil at Quarry Bank High School, which he had attended. The writer mentioned that the English master was making his class analyse Beatles' lyrics. Lennon, amused that a teacher was putting so much effort into understanding the Beatles' lyrics, wrote the most confusing lyrics he could.
I Am the Walrus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But people have tried to analyse this:
Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "I Am The Walrus"

And Howard Goodall believes the Beatles saved Western music:

Which is brilliant

Monday, 20 August 2012

amazing jouneys

different ways... different ways of travelling

.. by rabbit-proof fence:

The Stolen Generations (also known as Stolen children) were the children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families by the Australian Federal and State government agencies and church missions, under acts of their respective parliaments. The removals occurred in the period between approximately 1869[1] and 1969,[2][3] although in some places children were still being taken until the 1970s.

File:Rabbit proof fence map showing route.PNG

by motorbike:

The Motorcycle Diaries is a memoir that traces the early travels of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, then a 23-year-old medical student, and his friend Alberto Granado, a 29-year-old biochemist. Leaving Buenos Aires, Argentina, in January 1952 on the back of a sputtering single cylinder 1939 Norton 500cc dubbed La Poderosa ("The Mighty One"), they desired to explore the South America they only knew from books.[1] During the formative odyssey Guevara is transformed by witnessing the social injustices of exploited mine workers, persecuted communists, ostracized lepers, and the tattered descendants of a once-great Incan civilization. By journey's end they travel for a symbolic nine months by motorcycle, steamship, raft, horse, bus, and hitchhiking, covering more than 8,000 kilometres (5,000 mi) across places such as the Andes, Atacama Desert, and the Amazon River Basin. The book ends with a declaration by Guevara, born into an upper-middle-class family, displaying his willingness to fight and die for the cause of the poor, and his dream of seeing a united Latin America.

File:Che Guevara-Granado - Mapa 1er viaje - 1952.jpg

or by spacecraft:

and solve a problem whilst you're at it:

Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command Module depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

File:Direct Abort Trajectory - Lunar Landing Symposium, MSC Jun66.jpg

Thanks to Speak Out (Pre-Intermediate) from Pearson for this idea

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

theories of language learning and teaching: input

The brain needs input. The more correct and understandable sentences it gets, the more sentences it can imitate and the better it gets at making its own sentences.
By the way, the language learning model described above is basically the “comprehension hypothesis” (or “input hypothesis”) by professor Stephen Krashen (University of Southern California) and is part of his “natural approach” to language learning.
The model describes the process of a child learning its first (native) language. The child listens to its parents and other people. The child’s brain collects sentences and gets better and better at producing its own sentences. By the age of 5, the child can already speak quite fluently.
But the same model works for learning a foreign language. In fact, we think it is the only way to learn a language well.

What the model means for language learners
Here’s what’s important in the model from the point of view of foreign language learning:
  • The brain produces sentences based on the sentences it has seen or heard (input). So the way to improve is to feed your brain with a lot of input — correct and understandable sentences (written or spoken). Before you can start speaking and writing in a foreign language, your brain must get enough correct sentences in that language.
  • Output (speaking and writing) is less important. It is not the way to improve your language skills. In fact, you should remember that you can damage your English through early and careless output.
  • You don’t need grammar rules. You learned your first language without studying tenses or prepositions. You can learn a foreign language in that way, too.
Input — what it is and why you need it | Antimoon
Antimoon: How to learn English effectively

Dr. Krashen has published more than 350 papers and books, contributing to the fields of second language acquisition, bilingual education, and reading.[2] He is credited with introducing various influential concepts and terms in the study of second language acquisition, including the acquisition-learning hypothesis, the input hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, the affective filter, and the natural order hypothesis.[3] Most recently, Krashen promotes the use of free voluntary reading during second language acquisition, which he says "is the most powerful tool we have in language education, first and second."[4]
Stephen Krashen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill." Stephen Krashen
 Stephen Krashen
"Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language - natural communication - in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding." Stephen Krashen

"The best methods are therefore those that supply 'comprehensible input' in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are 'ready', recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production." Stephen Krashen

Stephen Krashen's Theory of Second Language Acquisition (Assimilação Natural - o Construtivismo no Ensino de Línguas)

The input hypothesis answers the question of how a language acquirer develops comptency over time. It states that a language acquirer who is at "level i" must receive comprehensible input that is at "level i+1." "We acquire, in other words, only when we understand language that contains structure that is 'a little beyond' where we are now." This understanding is possible due to using the context of the language we are hearing or reading and our knowledge of the world.
LANGUAGE LEARNING article--A Summary of Stephen Krashen's "Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition"

And on video:

StephenKrashenscomprehensibleinput.flv - YouTube
Stephen Krashen's Comprehensible Input — PISD TV — Plano Independent School District